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Soccer Thu Jun 17 2010

Invoking Eve - Feminine Scapegoats in the World Cup

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Hopes and expectations are powerful forces to motivate human action. In football, entire nations stores of identity and pride are wrapped majestically about their men to defend on the pitch in our most civil equivalent of combat sans casualties. The collective peoples, and their voices manifested through media, build dreams and expectations around their teams, who in turn make promises to their nations--with 32 teams in the world cup, 31 are eventually going to have some explaining to do. Ugly heads are rearing at this tournament though, as two nations with the highest hopes have stumbled early, and blame is finding its way to the most classic of scapegoats--women.

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Both England and Spain saw their goalkeepers let through preventable goals, and while a great majority of the sporting and national medias of both countries have chosen to find fault in plausible spots--reasonable places such as tactics, defensive errors, good finishing by opponents--some of the more salacious (read: moronic) news sources have chosen to blame not the keepers, but the women in their lives.

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Beyond making the keeper himself feel miserable about his mistake on the field, the ruthless English press has decided to tip Robert Green's split with supermodel Elizabeth Minett as cause for the mistake, "Dodgy shots at goal are sadly not the only thing Robert Green has trouble hanging on to." Only a truly miserable human could find space to add more misery onto a situation like Green's, and then deflect all cause of England's recent Yankee embarrassment to Minett. The girl's crime is allegedly causing Green mental anguish by dumping him, which was probably foremost on his mind IN THE MIDDLE OF A WORLD CUP SOCCER MATCH, a time people often let their minds wander about the mundane. Well done Daily Mail and Mirror, crack psychologists all.

Iker Casillas hit some bricks of his own in Spain's loss to Switzerland, but did the people of Spain question the strangely unorganized defense on the run of play, or Casillas himself? Nope, Spain blamed Ike's girlfriend, FHM's Sexiest Reporter Sara Carbonero who had to field questions regarding her effect on Casillas from all sides, even from her own network. It was probably a bit galling to the Spanish that Carbonero interviewed beau immediately after the match, leading with, "How did you manage to muck it up," but it was Casillas who mucked it up.

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To their credit, both women either refused to comment on these childish, media man-tantrums (Minett), or called the claims 'nonsense' (Carbonero), but the fact that the stories have gone from idle gossip issued from the vile stench of tabloid hackery, and have found their way into real reportage is more than troubling--even ESPN's website is carrying the Spanish story.

It borders on pitiful hilarity how some deep dark stupid hole in the human animal still finds way front and center to fault women for mistakes so obviously attributable to men. Green and Casillas have distanced themselves from the insinuations, which is good on them, but there the story sits on the Soccernet homepage.

The saddest part of the whole episode is that this 'blame the lady' game is old hat in soccer. Many in the Netherlands still blame Danny Cruyff for keeping the legendary Johan Cruyff away from the '78 World Cup due to alleged indiscretions at the team's hotel pool during the '74 tournament. Holland lost to Argentina, the hosts, in the final match, and many hold onto the story even in the face of Johan's revelation about a kidnapping scare being the actual cause. English fans cursed the WAGS after Germany '06, heaping all their disappointments from a dreadful team showing onto the wives and girlfriends of the players.

It is most telling that the Curse of Eve is most often invoked by the elite countries, the top echelon of footballing nations, reluctant to accept loss of face on the world's largest stage. In tournaments where the winner on the day is the team whose preparation, effort, and execution are superior, losers so often find solace in denial, and comfort in the worn excuse. Truth be told, Spain didn't finish and England were pressed by a hungry opponent. Results on the field speak for themselves, 11 men play as they do, and the outcome rests with no sideline reporter or supermodel, but solely in the hands of the participants themselves.

 
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